Launch of Breakthrough Initiatives

The Breakthrough Initiatives were launched in the Kohn Centre at the Royal Society in London on July 20, 2015 – the 56th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.

The Initiatives were announced by Yuri Milner, joined by Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, Stephen Hawking, Geoff Marcy and Lord Martin Rees.

Two Initiatives were presented: Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough Message.

Stephen Hawking delivered a personal message:

I'm here today because I believe the Breakthrough Initiatives, are critically important.

To understand the Universe, you must know about atoms. About the forces that bind them. The contours of space and time. The birth and death of stars, the dance of galaxies. The secrets of black holes.

But that is not enough. These ideas cannot explain everything. They can explain the light of stars. But not the lights that shine from planet Earth.

To understand these lights, you must know about life. About minds.

We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth. So in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life. Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours, aware of what they mean.

Or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos. Unseen beacons, announcing that here, on one rock, the Universe discovered its existence.

Either way, there is no bigger question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer - to search for life beyond Earth. The Breakthrough Initiatives are making that commitment.

We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.